An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide –

A New Four-footed Companion

Bess 049A2715

As many of you may have heard, I lost my steadfast companion Emma in December. She had 14 good years, but it still seems like too short a life to me. We canoed, hiked, swam, traveled to programs and photographed together for many, many years, sharing close encounters with porcupines, moose, beavers, snowy owls and countless other creatures. You may have seen her in the background in some of my posts – wherever I went, she went. She would literally sit for hours while I photographed. I couldn’t have asked for a better friend.

I think Emma is looking out for me, as I have a 6th Labrador in my life now – her name is Greta. Her breeding days are over and the very kind breeders who owned Greta let me adopt her. She is five years old and one of the sweetest dogs I’ve ever known.  She is quickly learning to sit patiently while I photograph – a must for any dog I own! Now and then you may see a spot of yellow, not brown, in some of my posts!


101 responses

  1. She’s beautiful!

    February 6, 2018 at 4:23 pm

  2. I’m sorry for your loss but 14 years is a credit to you. That’s a great age for a lab. I’m also glad that you adopted an adult dog needing a home. What a wonderful life she will have with you.

    February 6, 2018 at 4:24 pm

  3. Marilyn

    Oh, my! Serendipitous!

    February 6, 2018 at 4:26 pm

  4. You are Greta are going to be a great pair! I am sure she will be so happy to be on adventures with you, two girls out on a mission! All the best for you and her.

    February 6, 2018 at 4:27 pm

  5. SuzyF

    Losing your companion, Emma is a very hard loss but I know that you and Greta will have many wonderful adventures together. So glad you have each other!

    February 6, 2018 at 4:28 pm

  6. Robin Barone

    So happy to hear you have a new companion.
    Welcome to Greta!

    February 6, 2018 at 4:30 pm

  7. Treah Pichette

    How lovely that your observing life is continuing once again with a doggy friend. Welcome Greta!

    February 6, 2018 at 4:30 pm

  8. Sue Showalter

    What a beautiful girl, such kind, soulful eyes. Wishing you both many contented years of companionship.

    February 6, 2018 at 4:31 pm

  9. Peggy Timmerman

    So glad to know you have another 4 footed companion for your outings. There is nothing like the company of a dog when you are in the outdoors.

    February 6, 2018 at 4:32 pm

  10. Pat

    Oh, joy! I’m happy for both of you! I expect it will be a sweet association — hopefully for many years to come.

    February 6, 2018 at 4:33 pm

  11. Jennifer Waite

    Oh yay! she has such a great face, I’m so glad that you have a four-footed adventure buddy again!!

    February 6, 2018 at 4:37 pm

  12. Welcome Greta! You are one lucky dog!

    February 6, 2018 at 4:38 pm

  13. Beautiful, Mary! May you have many happy times together.

    February 6, 2018 at 4:38 pm

  14. Bill On The Hill...

    Sorry for your loss Mary… I remember Emma only to well from your Bradford Academy presentation in Bradford, Vt. a few years back now.
    Both my grandchildren, Maren, Kira & myself had front row seats and Emma was at my side that entire evening leaning against my leg [ occasionally sitting on my foot ] Wonderful dog as the kids couldn’t resist petting her!
    Bill Farr…:)

    February 6, 2018 at 4:42 pm

  15. Judy Yocom

    Seeing Greta’s beautiful face made my day! Judy Y.

    February 6, 2018 at 4:42 pm

  16. This is wonderful news Mary. May you and Greta have many great years of companionship and photographing together.

    February 6, 2018 at 4:44 pm

  17. Lin Peyton

    How fortunate can Greta be!!!!!!! thrilled for you also, Mary!!! ! lin

    February 6, 2018 at 4:46 pm

  18. mmwm

    I’m sorry to hear about Emma — I met her at one of your book talks several years ago — and very glad for you and Greta! Yay! It’s lovely to share life with a dog.

    February 6, 2018 at 4:47 pm

  19. Phil Fitzpatrick

    Very happy for you ! This from the guy who bred Vermont’s first AKC litter of flat coats.

    February 6, 2018 at 4:48 pm

  20. Richard Tingblad

    We are sorry to hear about Emma. Well do we know how you feel. However, we hope that your new friend Greta will bring you happiness.

    February 6, 2018 at 4:48 pm

  21. Luke

    Hi Mary. Sorry for your loss. Greta looks like a sweetheart and I love that you take your dogs’ pictures without collars. As all dogs should be!

    February 6, 2018 at 4:49 pm

  22. Randall Perkins

    This makes me so happy, Mary. Well navigated! These transitions, that become part of living with a beloved dog, can be achingly challenging. Sending many good wishes your way, Randall P.

    February 6, 2018 at 4:50 pm

  23. Linda Willson

    Dear Mary, Greta is beautiful and I am happy to hear that you have a new companion. Our dogs never live long enough do they? We have our third golden Sandy who came to us after our Emma died. Each one has been special in their own way. Wishing you joy as you discover Greta¹s uniquely Greta qualities and enjoy the lab traits that make you love the breed. Warmest wishes, Linda

    From: Naturally Curious with Mary Holland Reply-To: Naturally Curious with Mary Holland Date: Tuesday, February 6, 2018 at 4:18 PM To: Linda Willson Subject: [New post] A New Four-footed Companion Mary Holland posted: ” As many of you may have heard, I lost my steadfast companion Emma in December. She had 14 good years, but it still seems like too short a life to me. We canoed, hiked, swam, traveled to programs and photographed together for many, many years, sharing cl”

    February 6, 2018 at 4:53 pm

  24. Barbara L Johnson

    Greta is a lovely girl. Hope you come to visit us soon.

    February 6, 2018 at 4:56 pm

  25. mary

    So happy you and Greta found one another. May you be blessed with many walks and photos

    February 6, 2018 at 4:56 pm

  26. Susan Holland

    We are so happy to welcome Greta to the family! I am sure that Emma sent Greta to you, as she seems to be the perfect next family member for you! Ernie is anxious to play with her 🙂 Give her a pat from us.

    February 6, 2018 at 4:56 pm

  27. Sorry to hear about Emma’s passing, Mary. She was steadfast. Glad you have a new companion, welcome to Greta!

    February 6, 2018 at 5:01 pm

  28. Faith Bieler

    So happy for your to have a furry friend!



    February 6, 2018 at 5:07 pm

  29. Randi Filoon

    She is beautiful and I am so glad you found each other! Happy Valentines Day to both of you! ❤️

    Sent from my iPhone


    February 6, 2018 at 5:09 pm

  30. Jennifer C Peterson

    Congratulations! She looks like a sweetheart.

    February 6, 2018 at 5:11 pm

  31. Ainsley Donaldson

    How lovely! Sad memories but many happy new ones to come….

    February 6, 2018 at 5:18 pm

  32. Lou Leet

    Has bringing your dog interfered with you photographs or observations? We often hear that is the reason for not allowing dogs in wildlife areas. (i understand about having control over them.)
    And so happy you have many more happy years ahead with Greta – she is one lucky dog to be going out with you on your adventures!

    February 6, 2018 at 5:19 pm

    • I try hard not to disturb anyone/thing when I’m out exploring/photographing, but I am sure I see less than half of what I might if I did not have a dog with me. Emma was so good around wildlife it never ceased to amaze me. Even though I saw less, there was never a question of whether or not I wanted her companionship!

      February 7, 2018 at 9:01 am

  33. Carolyn Rhondeau

    So “natural” to have a newer Lab to join you. Be sure to read Mary Oliver’s poetry in Dog Songs. Regret you lost faithful Emma, but it appears Greta is a “keeper”…so “naturally” I am happy for you!

    February 6, 2018 at 5:19 pm

  34. Lynn

    Congratulations on your new girl. I have a lab who is 15. It just seems too soon. Enjoy your new friend. She is a lucky lab!

    February 6, 2018 at 5:20 pm

  35. Sue Jukosky

    Greta is lovely. How nice to have a new friend. Dogs are the best!

    February 6, 2018 at 5:20 pm

  36. Susan and Dean

    Lovely dog! So glad you’ve found a new companion.

    February 6, 2018 at 5:21 pm

  37. Susan Turner

    Greta will surely help you ease the loss of Emma. I am sure Emma had great adventures by your side discovering more about wildlife!
    Sending love, hugs, hope, and light as you and Greta start your own new adventures together!

    February 6, 2018 at 5:28 pm

  38. Melissa Haertsch

    Congratulations, Mary! That’s so wonderful!


    February 6, 2018 at 5:38 pm

  39. Jen Trainor

    Enjoy your new companion! So much change in your life these days…I am sure the two of you are destined to be together, I look forward to seeing her in your photos. So happy for you both!

    February 6, 2018 at 5:40 pm

  40. Linda Kapp

    Hooray!!! I am so happy for you and Greta. She is a lucky dog and you are so wise to have found her. I wish you many happy times together. Love, Linda

    February 6, 2018 at 5:43 pm

  41. Trish

    Excellent Mary. May she fill your life with much joy and companionship.

    February 6, 2018 at 5:49 pm

  42. Alice Pratt

    …awwwww…the indelible prints our pets leave on our souls and hearts….. Greta must have been a wonderful Mom…teaching all her puppy babies everything a puppy needs to know. Now she starts a new part of her life…sharing with you! And a new furry friend for Otis! Wonderful times ahead! ❤️❤️

    February 6, 2018 at 5:52 pm

  43. Jim Tucker

    We love our Labs! Have a 3 year old Black female now an she is a constant companion! Lost our 16 year old in November, like losing a piece of your heart!
    I read your column aloud to my wife and anyone else present every morning!

    February 6, 2018 at 6:00 pm

  44. Sally

    I’m so happy for you. She’s lovely!

    February 6, 2018 at 6:05 pm

  45. Josie

    WONDERFUL! A new adventure for you both!

    February 6, 2018 at 6:06 pm

  46. Janet Andersen

    Wonderful! May you have many great natural adventures together!

    February 6, 2018 at 6:09 pm

  47. Dawn

    So glad you found a new friend!

    February 6, 2018 at 6:12 pm

  48. Jamie

    Heaven! My lab is my companion on my hikes and photographic adventures as well. Unfortunately, mine likes to lead and usually walks through the object of interest e.g., spider web as soon as I start to compose the image. Obviously, I am at fault for poor communication to her, but it can be frustrating. Congrats on your new partnership.

    February 6, 2018 at 6:20 pm

  49. Bonnie MacLeod

    Such great news ! I remember you had a yellow lab, (was it Josie? ) when you lived near me. Best wishes to you and Greta.

    February 6, 2018 at 6:24 pm

  50. Sounds like Emma is a hard act to follow–but it seems that Greta has gotten off to a great start with you. Congratulations to you both!

    February 6, 2018 at 6:28 pm

  51. Vicky Linville

    What a lucky girl she is to have found you!!!

    February 6, 2018 at 6:41 pm

  52. betsy

    so happy for you both

    February 6, 2018 at 6:51 pm

  53. Laurie Spry

    Oh Mary, my family has had a lot of labs, mostly English labs (we lived in Australia for a while). I used to take the old – much older than 5! – breeding bitches and let hem live out their lives on the farm here. They leave such a hole when they go, don’t they? I know. So lovely that you’ve made room in your home and heart for another one who really needs you. Thanks for all you do, and all I’ve learned from your posts!

    February 6, 2018 at 7:10 pm

  54. May you and Greta have many happy years together and many wonderful photo ops!

    February 6, 2018 at 7:11 pm

  55. Sandy

    So happy to hear you and Greta have each other now.

    February 6, 2018 at 7:17 pm

  56. Susie Peters

    I had just written a contribution for you today, Mary, and was thinking about all you and your family have been through with losing your son-in-law, and then I just saw this about your losing your longtime companion Emma. My deep condolences. Our dogs have always been family too. Lucky for Greta to be in your life now. Hugs, Susie Peters

    On Tue, Feb 6, 2018 at 4:18 PM, Naturally Curious with Mary Holland wrote:

    > Mary Holland posted: ” As many of you may have heard, I lost my steadfast > companion Emma in December. She had 14 good years, but it still seems like > too short a life to me. We canoed, hiked, swam, traveled to programs and > photographed together for many, many years, sharing cl” >

    February 6, 2018 at 7:37 pm

  57. Linda Rauter

    Congratulations on your new furry companion!

    February 6, 2018 at 7:39 pm

  58. Larysa Bachinsky

    Of course you’re a dog person. A walk in the woods wouldn’t be the same without them. Just watching their joy is happiness. I love your blog and I’m glad this new friend has entered such a wonderful life. Congratulations to the both of you.

    February 6, 2018 at 7:49 pm

  59. Guy Stoye

    Mary We are SO happy for you AND for Greta too because she couldn’t have gone to a nicer, more kind, deserving “mother”. Coincidences: My first real dog companion, actually with me from childhood until military service, was a cocker spaniel my mother named Greta. Greta had lovely eyelashes as did Greta Garbo.
    Greta was my nearly constant companion from 1940 until 1954. I was standing in a chow line at an army base in Frankfurt, Germany when I took some mail out of my pocket I had gotten hours before. Opening a letter from my mother which showed having been somewhat wet, I read the words, “I can hardly bear to tell you, Greta has died.”
    I tried to hide it but the tears came fast. The guy behind me in the line asked me if somebody died at home. “My dog!” was all I could say.
    Other coincidence : My brother Joe and his wife in Florida had a yellow lab named Holly whom they loved dearly. She to was a sweet dog too as I soon found out when I went down there to visit. We all loved her. Joe and his dog are gone now but I know that somewhere their spirits are together.
    Mary, I just KNOW the happiness you are feeling with this dear addition who comes now to fill the void Emma left- not that you (or I) will ever forget Emma.
    I’m going to send a couple of pictures of my Greta with me and of Joe with his Holly.
    If only this text comes through I’ll do something else.
    Best always to you Guy Stoye Ann Bowes/Users/guystoyexfer/Desktop/jpg679.jpg

    February 6, 2018 at 7:54 pm

    • Jo

      This is lovely. Thank you for sharing these stories.

      February 7, 2018 at 1:26 am

  60. judilindsey


    I had not heard your dog Emma had passed on. What a sad time for you – dogs are such great family members! But congrats on your newest addition, Greta. I’m sure she’ll provide you with some wonderful companionship.



    February 6, 2018 at 7:57 pm

  61. Sue Makowiecki

    Congratulations Mary on the newest addition to your family, she’s beautiful!

    February 6, 2018 at 8:14 pm

  62. Henry Homeyer

    Hi Mary, So glad Greta is in your life. She is gorgeous, and I know you will train her to be a real good dog! congrats, Henry

    February 6, 2018 at 8:20 pm

  63. Karen Watson

    Welcome Greta. You lucky dog!

    February 6, 2018 at 8:28 pm

  64. Diane

    I didn’t know you lost your companion. Always sad when they cross the bridge.

    February 6, 2018 at 8:37 pm

  65. Kimberly

    Sending condolence for Emma’s passing and congratulations that Greta chose you!

    February 6, 2018 at 8:57 pm

  66. barbara

    What a lovely companion! Wishing you years of fun together.

    February 6, 2018 at 9:01 pm

  67. Peter Denis

    Lucky Greta! Lucky you!

    February 6, 2018 at 9:01 pm

  68. Nora Paley

    I am sad to learn that your dear dog died. I always think of you with her exploring the world and reporting back.

    February 6, 2018 at 9:36 pm

  69. Kathryn

    I wish you and Greta a very long and happy life together. So sorry about Emma.

    February 6, 2018 at 9:41 pm

  70. Eleanor, Roger and Kane

    Congratulations to you and Greta😊Look forward to meeting her .

    February 6, 2018 at 9:47 pm

  71. Gwyneth Loud

    Mary- I am so happy for you and for Greta. I hope you have many happy years together.


    February 6, 2018 at 9:52 pm

  72. Cecelia Blair

    Thank you for telling us and introducing Greta to your many friends and fans here. I hope you and she will have a wonderful companionship for the years ahead.

    February 6, 2018 at 9:53 pm

  73. John Ross Cannon

    Great news, Mary. Emma looks like a real sweetheart. Best to you, John and Sharon

    February 6, 2018 at 10:44 pm

  74. Kathi Govatski

    I am so happy for you, Mary. Dogs are the best companions!

    February 7, 2018 at 1:06 am

  75. Jo

    So happy “four” you both. Here’s to a long & rewarding partnership! 🍾🐶

    February 7, 2018 at 1:23 am

  76. Frances Henry

    Congratulations on your new dog!

    We did not know know about the loss of your companion, Emma, but we imagine 2017 is a year to let go.

    May you have many years of hiking and hanging together. Lovely dog, to boot.

    Fran and Walter


    On Tue, Feb 6, 2018 at 4:18 PM, Naturally Curious with Mary Holland wrote:

    > Mary Holland posted: ” As many of you may have heard, I lost my steadfast > companion Emma in December. She had 14 good years, but it still seems like > too short a life to me. We canoed, hiked, swam, traveled to programs and > photographed together for many, many years, sharing cl” >

    February 7, 2018 at 5:23 am

  77. Jo-Ann Ecker

    My heart is so happy for you…you saved Greta and Greta saved you….many happy days ahead for both of you….hope to see you again at the Woodstock Garden Club…your last presentation was wonderful. From one photographer (aspiring to reach your heights) to another….thank you for your wonderful photos and great info

    February 7, 2018 at 5:47 am

  78. James Macneil

    Labs are pieces of cake in friendship.

    February 7, 2018 at 7:31 am

  79. kristina

    Greta is beautiful! I’m so glad you have a new canine companion. I could not live without a dog.

    February 7, 2018 at 7:41 am

  80. Jen Dembinski

    So happy for you and Greta. May Emma Rest In Peace.

    February 7, 2018 at 7:58 am

  81. Chris

    Oh Mary, I had an Emma in my life for 14 years! She was a yellow lab and trained therapy dog. We did everything together, hiked, kayaked, all the great fun outdoor adventures. I am so glad that Greta has come into your life! I know she will be an extraordinary friend.

    February 7, 2018 at 8:16 am

  82. B Conolly

    Dear Mary: What a sweet face! Emma reincarnated? Barbara Conolly

    February 7, 2018 at 8:38 am

  83. David Fedor-Cunningham

    I am so glad that you brought another dog into your life.

    February 7, 2018 at 10:31 am

  84. Wendy miller

    Enjoy her!

    February 7, 2018 at 2:10 pm

  85. Audrey Ball

    Aren’t labs wonderful dogs! Some are just so docile and sweet. I’m so sorry that you lost Emma. Fourteen years isn’t long enough. That is so hard with these beloved,and dedicated family members. I’m happy you have Greta. She looks so calm and friendly. I hope you have many good years together.

    Audrey Ball

    February 7, 2018 at 3:14 pm

  86. Caitlin McKinnell

    Congratulations, despite the sad circumstances. I have a black lab named Trudie. We considered the name Greta. Before her we had a chocolate lab, Beatrice. I love the breed. They are kind, intelligent and rugged.

    February 7, 2018 at 4:30 pm

  87. Kathryn Law

    The saddest part of having a dog is that they don’t live as long as we do. But that also means we get to share our lives with many dogs over our lifetime. The best to both you and Greta.

    February 7, 2018 at 5:15 pm

  88. Bonny Boatman

    Mary – So sorry to hear of Emma’s passing. I met her when you visited Maine. I feel your grief … so glad you have a new and lovely companion! Bonny

    February 7, 2018 at 8:31 pm

  89. Congratulations on the new companion! Greta looks at the ready to serve you well!

    February 7, 2018 at 8:55 pm

  90. Congratulations! To Greta!!! nd I’m sure Emma is watching over you both! 👍😢😇🐾

    February 7, 2018 at 8:58 pm

  91. Rachel Stern

    Dear Mary,Sorry to hear of the loss of your dog but glad that you have a new friend who sounds very special.  Look forward to seeing your new dog in pictures.

    February 7, 2018 at 11:54 pm

  92. Christine Belanger

    She said beautiful!

    February 8, 2018 at 5:36 am

  93. Darcy Donald

    So delighted for you and Greta both! There is no better companion, confidant, and soul mate. What joyous news! >

    February 8, 2018 at 9:05 am

  94. C Tate

    Ah, my heart melts to see her! So happy for you Mary and for Greta too. Wishing you many happy years and adventures together.

    February 8, 2018 at 12:06 pm

  95. Laurie M Gelb

    She is beautiful.. What a wonderful friend.

    February 9, 2018 at 7:57 pm

  96. Jean Quattrocchi

    I am so very sorry about the loss of your dear friend. It is wonderful that you have a new friend to bring you JOY !


    February 10, 2018 at 6:29 pm

  97. You are in my thoughts as you make your way without Emma (it’s so hard to say goodbye to our special animal family members) and as you develop a new relationship with Greta .

    February 13, 2018 at 4:11 pm

  98. It’s sad to lose a dear 4 footed companion &I send you my condolences even a you welcome your new, sweet faces friend

    February 18, 2018 at 4:38 pm

  99. Emma looked gorgeous to the last hair. As I write, I have a two year old chocolate Lab lying on my bed snoring…i am lucky. Time is on my side, but it will come. Must enjoy the memories and have maximum fun. Blogging about him helps too. Best wishes.

    March 4, 2018 at 5:20 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s